Road Diet Paves the Way for Town's Return to a 'Wonderful Life'

Community resistance stopped plans for widening Hamburg, New York's Main Street. By embracing calmer streets, the town is flourishing and once again enjoying comparisons to the idyllic Bedford Falls of 'It's a Wonderful Life.'
August 20, 2013, 1pm PDT | Alek Miller
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Doug Kerr

Since Main Street has had several traffic calming measures put into place, the city has enjoyed economic benefits while residents point to an improved quality of life that has brought many people back to Hamburg. 

"'If you build a place for cars, it will be a gathering place for cars,' [village trustee Laura] Hackathorn said. 'If it's built for people, it will be a gathering place for people.'

Over four recent years, business owners, inspired by the new road, spent a total of $7 million on 33 building projects. The number of building permits rose from 15 in 2005 to 96 in 2010 and property values along Route 62 more than doubled over the same period. In 2012, the village’s Main Street was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, which brought tax incentives that villagers hope will lead to still more development."

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Published on Friday, August 16, 2013 in The New York Times
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